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NOVEMBER 2011

ISSUE 25

LONGHAUL: AUSTRALIA Australia is renowned for its scenic natural attractions and vast variety of adventure sports, along with being a popular business destination.

Despite global fears of a double-dip recession and recent economic turmoil caused by unrest in the Middle East, the UAE has revealed the country's strongest consumer confidence results ever.

21 EXCLUSIVE: THE JOURNEY TO RECOVERY

Due to its comprehensive benefits and rich economic returns to the tourism industry, travelling for the purpose of health and well-being has become one of the most prominent tourism patterns.

25 IN THIS ISSUE MARKET UPDATE INVESTIGATION: Resorts VISIT: UAE EXPLORE: Iran & Iraq ONSITE: India TOUR: Czech Republic LONGHAUL: Australia & New Zealand TRAVEL CHANNELS TRAVEL TALK EXCLUSIVE: Medical Travel WHO'S MOVED RENDEZVOUS EVENTS

02 03 04 16 18 20 21 23 24 25 26 27 28

VISIT: UAE

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MARKET UPDATE

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY MANAGING EDITOR Mary Kammitsi mary@traveltradeweekly.travel JOURNALISTS Rita Kasziba Marianna Keen Dominique Christou

Etihad: Best Ever Third Quarter With robust revenue and passenger number growth, Etihad Airways recorded its strongest third quarter (Q3) ever.

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SALES & MARKETING Maria Demitriadou Brighite Ess Dominique Tennant Dimitris Thomaidis WEB & LAYOUT Elina Pericleous DIRECTORS Andreas Constantinides Mary Kammitsi HEADQUARTERS T.T.W. Travel Trade Weekly P.O. Box 25255, Nicosia 1308 Cyprus Tel: +357 2282 0888, Fax: +357 2231 8958 WEBSITE www.traveltradeweekly.travel EMAILS info@traveltradeweekly.travel sales@traveltradeweekly.travel editorial@traveltradeweekly.travel PRINTED IN CYPRUS Cyprint Plc P.O. Box 58300, CY-3732, Limassol, Cyprus Tel: +357 2572 0035, Fax: +357 25720123 Email: info@cyprint.com.cy

MENA EXCHANGE RATES Accurate as of

24/10/2011 Currencies shown in red are fixed against the US Dollar

COUNTRY

CURRENCY

1USD=

UAE (AED)

Dirham

3.67

Egypt (EGP)

Pound

5.98

Saudi Arabia (SAR)

Riyal

3.75

Lebanon (LBP)

Pound

1,507.50

Bahrain (BHD)

Dinar

0.37

Jordan (JOD)

Dinar

0.71

Syria (SYP)

Pound

49.60

Kuwait (KWD)

Dinar

0.27

Qatar (QAR)

Riyal

3.64

Oman (OMR)

Rial

0.38

Tunisia (TND)

Dinar

1.41

Morocco (MAD)

Dirham

8.08

Iran (IRR)

Riyal

10,573.00

Yemen (YER)

Rial

214.25

Algeria (DZD)

Dinar

72.82

Libya (LYD)

Dinar

1.22

he airline’s revenues totalled USD1.1 billion, up 39 percent over the corresponding period in 2010, while passenger numbers reached 2.25 million, a notable 18 percent growth over Q3 2010. With an increase of 3.8 percent, seat factor rose to 80.7 percent, marking the carrier’s highest quarterly result in its history. Operating costs climbed 12 percent, while non-fuel costs increased by seven percent. Etihad’s strong quarterly performance moved the airline into monthly profitability, noted James Hogan, CEO. “Despite the continuing challenges of high fuel prices and economic downturn, we are seeing strong growth in all our key commercial indicators. We are doing this by creating and marketing the world’s leading air travel product, while maintaining a rigor-

James Hogan ous focus on costs.” The three-month period saw strong performance levels across all markets, with particularly popular routes including those to the Americas, Asia Pacific, Cairo, London, Dublin, Athens and Istanbul.

Jazeera Aiways Reports Market Share Growth Jazeera Airways’ operational performance report for the 2011 summer season has revealed a higher market share on leading destinations compared with its record performance in the same period of 2010. The results, which cover The results, which cover the months of June, the months of June, July July and August, show a rise in the airline’s market share on routes from Kuwait to Beirut, Luxor, Sharm and August, show a rise in El Sheikh, Jeddah and even Damascus, amid politithe airline’s market share cal unrest in Syria. Market share on the Damascus route reached 49 percent, up 20 percent over summer 2010, while an even greater increase of 24 percent was recorded on the Luxor route, resulting in 82 percent market share. Lebanon's share was 34 percent, up 10 percent over summer 2010, Sharm El Sheikh was recorded as 68 percent, amounting to a 17 percent increase, and Jeddah's market share was 17 percent, showing a growth of two percent. Jazeera Airways reported that by July it had captured a 30 percent market share on the Cairo route that was launched on May 18.

Welcome

to the new, fresh look and design of Travel Trade Monthly and Travel Trade Weekly. We are pleased to inform you that this month, our publications reached their two-year milestone of providing up-to-date, reliable travel trade news. In this two year period, we have published 25 Travel Trade Monthly editions and a total of 103 Travel Trade Weekly issues. Our publications are the only Middle East and North Africa titles that promote MENA outside of the region. We enjoy an average of 5,500 readers per day with over 64,000 travel agents, tour operators and other trade professionals around the globe contributing to content as well as readership. The diversity and quality in our publications, as well as the frequency of campaigns from our advertisers, define what Travel Trade Monthly and Travel Trade Weekly stand for and promote and justify their increasing number of readers. We would like to thank our readers for their weekly support and trust in our titles and stress that we are committed to continually providing our audience with the latest news and developments. The Travel Trade Weekly Team NOVEMBER 2011


Resorts

INVESTIGATION

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The Havens to Remember and Return to

Eddé Sands Hotel & Wellness Resort, Lebanon

As demand and competition is heating up, the region’s most renowned resorts are stepping up their game. Travel Trade Monthly, reports on how resorts are flashing more frills and distinctive amenities, in a bid to distinguish their properties in a competitive market segment.

 Rita Kasziba writes

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et amid stretches of desert sand and tranquil scenery, the Middle East and North Africa’s resorts represent the true oasis of indulgence. The scramble for guests, however, is fast intensifying with properties continuously emerging across the region. Encountering obstacles, further stimulating demand and business and reaching out to a broader audience especially in these challenging times, is crucial. Eddé Sands Hotel & Wellness Resort, located just steps away from the historic Lebanese town, Byblos, enjoys high popularity with domestic travellers, yet aims to boost business from the European market. Joanne Zarife, marketing communications manager, Eddé Sands Hotel & Wellness Resort, elaborated on how the hotel is targeting markets beyond the country's borders. “Our clientele is made up by 60 percent Lebanese (including GCC expats), 13 percent European, seven percent GCC and Levant nationals, six percent North American and three percent Australian guests, while the remaining one percent comes from other countries. We focus our efforts on targeting European travellers who are more health conscious and are looking for a serene stay rather than a party destination.” Movenpick Resort & Spa Tala Bay Aqaba also receives remarkable business from the old continent, however this property too plans to expand to encourage a broader market mix. Hubert Klemenz, general manager for the Resort, commented on the guest strategy. “Movenpick Resorts & Spa Tala Bay Aqaba, is enjoying a high percentage from local guests and European and Scandinavian markets, as well as GCC countries. Other markets are Russia and Ukraine and we have also witnessed an increase of Asian guests. We are working to expand our marketing targets to GCC, Scandinavian and Eastern countries as well as Asia.” NOVEMBER 2011

REACHING OUT Banyan Tree Al Wadi, the company’s first property in the UAE, also enjoys high popularity with European travellers, noted Pascal Eppink, general manager. “Most travellers come from countries such as Germany, Italy and Russia, and there is an increase in demand from markets such as France, the UK and Scandinavia. Aside from Western Europe, we are targeting markets such as the UAE, GCC, CIS and Asia.”

Four Seasons Resort Sharm El Sheikh, is highly popular with holiday makers, especially in the European market. Nadine Abubakr, public relations coordinator, Four Seasons Resort Sharm El Sheikh, elaborates on the guest mix. “Most of our guests are Europeans, but we have already welcomed travellers from all around the globe, and we focus on the Russian market as well.” TARGETING MICE Maritim Jolie Ville Golf & Resort enjoys increasing visitor volume from all around the world, especially from the MICE market, commented Mark Spivey, director of international sales. “We receive guests from the Scandinavian, Eastern and Western European markets as well as from the local market. We do not plan any changes currently but aim to target other Western European markets such as France and Belgium.” Hotel owners, operators and managers all agree that continuously raising the benchmark to keep up with the increasing competition is crucial. “[A main challenge is] to keep the high standards and quality we provide with the same pricing system as other hotel competitors, which continue to lower prices. We are also passionate about the environment and aim to make the hotel as green as possible,” added Spivey. “We do need to constantly innovate and raise the bar in terms of the design of our hotels and the design of our facilities from menus, to experiences and excursions,” added Banyan Tree’s Eppink. “We listen intently to guest feedback and consider market trends before brainstorming and putting our own angle and interpretation on new product design and guest experience.” HUMAN TOUCH

We do need to constantly innovate and raise the bar The 336-room Radisson Blu Resort, Tala Bay, has also witnessed a notable growth from the domestic segment, noted Raneen Alhadeed, public relations and communications coordinator. “The local market started to increase due to the problems in the nearby countries like Syria, Lebanon or Egypt. We also often receive guests from Germany, the UK, Russia and many other countries. “

Urban Tails Pet Resort surely stands out from the UAE’s gaudy accommodation palette. The resort, which opened in February, represents the world’s first seven-star property dedicated to four-legged guests. Elspeth Moore, manager, Urban Tails Pet Resort, elaborated on this niche product. “[Urban Tails is] a place where pets can enjoy the experience of being in an environment away from home. At Urban Tails, we believe that four-legged guests require and deserve the same level of services and amenities as their owners. Urban Tails Pet Resort is fully air conditioned with all suites and play areas having a special design layout to reduce noise level, minimise stress, and ensuring that hygiene is of utmost importance. This service is unique in the UAE and something for which there is a huge demand.” The resort, composed of spacious suites from junior to royal sizes, features a gym, swimming pool and large garden, all custom built for four-legged guests.


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VISIT

UAE

UAE: Polished Gems of the Middle East Despite global fears of a double-dip recession and recent economic turmoil caused by unrest in the Middle East, the UAE has revealed the country's strongest consumer confidence results ever in the retail, travel and hospitality sectors, amid a flourishing travel and tourism economy, which Travel Trade Monthly explores.  Marianna Keen writes

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he World Travel and Tourism Council’s (WTTC) March update on the industry suggested that global airline passenger traffic growth remains strong, but is slowing, and growth for all world regions is likely to slow for the current year. The WTTC’s Travel and Tourism Economic Impact Report for the UAE, however, revealed that visitor arrivals growth remained steady, and this looks to have improved. In a survey of 17,620 respondents in 25 markets, conducted between 15 March and 27 April, the MasterCard Worldwide Index of Consumer

Confidence posted the UAE's strongest showing ever in the retail, travel and hospitality sectors. Although economists suggest the report is unlikely to reflect the impact of the latest round of global uncertainty, since the start of August, the high readings across a number of indicators compared to a year ago indicate a positive trend. Results correspond with a rising number of tourists and companies attracted to the destination, among additional benefits since turmoil erupted in other parts of the region. According to STR Global, the UAE's hospitality sector will grow by more than 55 percent if all 48,071 rooms in its pipeline open.

UAE IN BRIEF Capital: Abu Dhabi Other emirates: Dubai, Sharjah, Fujairah,Ras Al Khaimah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain Currency: UAE Dirhams (AED) Language: Arabic

Abu Dhabi

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he capital of the UAE has rapidly and vastly increased its offering with diverse leisure attractions and countless new internationally-operated hotels and resorts, as well as improved its versatility, aided by heightened competitiveness and improved air links. Ferrari World theme park, Yas Island, Al Ain Wildlife Park and Desert Islands are among the emirate's wildly popular attractions. Lawrence Franklin, strategy and policy director, Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), elaborated on the emirate's continually evolving tourism strategy. “We continue to fine-tune and reweight efforts as changing local and global conditions dictate. Some examples of these adjustments include additional focus on accommodation supply trends in the emirate and continued pressure on demand generation through building niche markets, such as golf, education, culture and heritage, cruise tourism and busi-

Al Raha Beach Hotel ness tourism amongst others.” A focus on supply and demand of accommodation proves increasingly crucial in a market which has experienced such a rapid rise in visitors, with hotel companies, property developers and investors flocking to get a piece of the pie. ”We maintain a register of projects which we freely share with developers, investors and consultants. This register currently lists around 8,000 rooms under construction, for completion between now and 2014.” Rotana has seen business conditions improve across the board, particularly in the UAE, with a hand full of properties planned to open in Abu Dhabi, noted Omer Kaddouri, executive vice president, operations, Rotana. “November will witness the opening of our fourth property under Centro brand in the UAE,

which will be our 29th property in the Emirates, with the expected opening of Centro Al Manhal in Abu Dhabi.” The 300-room Centro Capital Centre is due to open in quarter two, 2012 and the 300-room Capital Centre Rotana is due to open in quarter three. Capital Centre Arjaan by Rotana’s opening date will be announced at a later stage.” Starwood Hotels and Resorts is also expanding its presence in the Abu Dhabi market in the near future. In this year alone, it will introduce the deluxe St. Regis brand to the UAE with St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi, offering a 3000m2 ballroom, as well as launch Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa, both set to open in November. Another brand entering the emirate is the Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi, scheduled to open on Saadiyat Island later this year. NOVEMBER 2011


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VISIT

Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, which will be part of an iconic beachfront project featuring five towers, will, from November 1, offer 382 rooms and suites close to the central business district. Rocco Forte Abu Dhabi is scheduled to open on November 7 and Rosewood will reveal its highly anticipated ultra-luxury business hotel in Abu Dhabi in quarter four, 2012. Viceroy Hotel Group assumed immediate control of Yas Hotel, marking the departure of Aldar from the hotel management sector, with Yas the last of eight properties to be handed over to external operators. Another re-launch is Marfraq Hotel, which was purchased by The National Investor (TNI) and is now set to open in November after a two year, USD50 million overhaul. Keeping the Mafraq name was decided, to highlight the uniqueness of the project and strengthen its own independent brand. Al Raha Beach Resort is meanwhile undergoing extensive expansion, which is approaching its final phase, while Danat Al Ain Resort has renovated its rooms and its Pearl Ballroom, which caters for 1000 people, enlightened Rima Rawass, group marketing manager, Danat Hotels & Resorts. “Business in Abu Dhabi is growing and competition becomes more tough with the new upcoming branded hotels.” The 282-room Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche is expected to open in quarter one 2012, as part of the Capital Plaza complex, on the eastern tip of Corniche Road. It will boast a conference centre covering nearly 2,600m2, adding to the emirate’s already substantial MICE offering. Abu Dhabi is the second most popular business event destination in the Middle East in terms of number of events hosted, upon which Franklin of ADTA expanded. “Demand is increasing and as the emirate matures, with more attractions and new hotels, many with their own convention facilities for over 1,000 people, for example, with St. Regis Saadiyat Island, Jumeirah at Etihad Towers and The Ritz Carlton Abu Dhabi, we will attract more business events and average spend is likely to rise.” Another focus of ADTA is attracting new international markets. “Our top three markets outside of the UAE are currently the UK, India and the US. India has shown strong growth for us, rising 24 percent in the first eight months of this year compared with the same period in 2010.” Germany, France, Jordan, Australia, Italy, Kuwait and Russia are also achieving double-digit growth. The authority will strengthen efforts to target high growth markets such as India, China and Russia, indicated Franklin. An expanding project is Saadiyat Island, which is undergoing a remarkable transformation, infusing cultural, social and environmental needs as well as extending its accommodation offering. Following a soft launch in September, Monte Carlo Beach Club has now officially opened, extending the island’s worldwide appeal. Saadiyat is also adding a landmark exhibition and event venue, the UAE Pavillion, which is located beside Manaret Al Saadiyat and is set to host some of the UAE's most important cultural functions. It features 3,600m2 of exhibition space and will host this

UAE year’s Abu Dhabi Art, as its first event in November. The second World Green Tourism conference will also be held at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) from December 5-7. Holly Fenton, marketing manager, Streamline Marketing Group, expanded on visits that will take place as part of the event. “It will include a trip to the mangroves in Abu Dhabi and to Al Ain. Al Ain was recently awarded UNESCO World Heritage status and is relatively unknown although it has many historical sites.” The event will have a small supporting exhibition where the UAE Business Council for Sustainable Development, green solution providers, and other companies will exhibit. Grand Mosque

Al Ain was recently awarded UNESCO World Heritage status and is relatively unknown although it has many historical sites

SPORT TOURISM A rapidly broadening market for Abu Dhabi is sport tourism, with the emirate now holding a world-class calendar of elite sporting events. These include the European PGA Tour sanctioned Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, to be held in January 2012, and the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon, which will take place in March 2012. Dayne Lim, product development director, ADTA, elaborated on efforts for future growth “We are currently undertaking a feasibility study to examine the construction of a multi-purpose indoor events arena that is capable of hosting a wide spectrum of major international events.” Investment in sport has been a key strategy to help Abu Dhabi reach its target of 2.3 million hotel guests a year by 2012. “The biggest addition to our sports events calendar this year comes on New Year’s Eve, when the emirate will welcome the Volvo Ocean Race fleet for the third stop of the nine month, round the world sailing race,” commented Lim. “In total, we expect more than 1,000 visitors to pass through the gates, with a further 150,000 fans expected to be engaged throughout the fortnight.” Etihad Airways has been confirmed as the multi-level sponsor of the event, with its destination management company Hala Abu Dhabi promoting the event. “Through this initiative we are also galvanising Abu Dhabi stakeholders to get involved and promote their activities to domestic and international travellers,” continued Franklin. AIR TRAVEL

Etihad sponsored yacht

Abu Dhabi International Airport passenger volume continued to rise in August, according to data from Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC). A total of 1.09 million travellers passed through the airport, up 14 percent from the corresponding month in 2010. Among iconic events to be hosted in Abu Dhabi is the Global Eurospace Summit 2012, following the expansion of the Middle East’s aviation industry, explained Daniyal Qureshi, commercial director, Global Eurospace Summit. “Arab countries are expected to spend over USD100 billion on infrastructure development and USD200 billion on the purchase of new aircraft over the next 15 years. Chief among these are developments in the UAE, which focus on using the region’s central location as a transfer point.” NOVEMBER 2011


UAE

Dubai

VISIT

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Dubai Creek

Long seen as the jewel of the Middle East, Dubai’s tourism industry experienced setbacks during the global economic downturn, but looks to have rejoined the path of prosperity along with other emirates, suggests the World Travel and Tourism Council's (WTTC) recent analysis for the UAE.  Marianna Keen writes

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he direct contribution of the industry to GDP for the year is expected to exceed 2008 levels, reaching AED67.4billion (USD18.3 billion), a 6.1 percent of total GDP. Macroeconomic conditions overall appear favourable for Dubai’s industry, suggested Eyad Abdul Rahman, executive director media relations and business developments, Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM). “Currently, Dubai has more than 80,000 hotel rooms and apartments to serve a growing number of tourists. There are a number of hotels that are at various stages of development and construction. With the global economic situation, we believe, with the current inventory of rooms and apartments, Dubai is well positioned to serve more tourists.” Despite positive signs, fears of a second global recession have raised doubts. “We expect the number of tourists to grow double digit as Dubai’s economy is growing. However the uncertainty surrounding the global financial crisis could change that,” added Rahman.

With the global economic situation, we believe, with the current inventory of rooms and apartments, Dubai is well positioned to serve more tourists In addition to displaced tourism increasing visitor numbers to the emirate, the materialisation of new visitor markets is a factor in Dubai’s success. ”The number of visitors from China has definitely increased, so are the numbers from emerging markets,” commented Rahman. Efforts are also being made to increase Russian visitor traffic, where significant further opportunities are seen. Hussein Hachem, cluster general manager, Al Bustan and Al Murooj Rotana Dubai, commented on changes in the market that hotels have experienced this year. “There was definitely an increase in the influx of Russian and Chinese guests this year, and I must say, Dubai has been affected positively by the unfortunate turmoil in the Arab world. Tourists from all over the world tend to come NOVEMBER 2011

Burj Al Arab

to the UAE instead of the other Arab countries.” Consequentially, occupancy rates in hotels across Dubai have improved on last year’s figures. “Al Bustan Rotana is doing well compared to 2010. There is a generally positive result in businesses with us achieving a five percent increase in occupancy compared with last year’s figures, while our RevPar has increased by 12 percent,” continued Hachem. MICE business forms an important part of tourism and Dubai, as the regional hub for exhibition and conference business, has been attracting a large pool of business travellers. “There was definitely an increase from the business travel segment. We have hosted a number of exhibitions, business groups and MICE this year,” commented Hachem.


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UAE

The opening of two Dubai Convention Bureau (DCB) representative offices in mainland China, prompted the bureau to embark on a series of activities to develop MICE opportunities for Dubai stakeholders and bring major MICE agents from Beijing and Shanghai.

This environmentally responsible focus is one shared by the country’s tourism department, remarked Rahman. “The DTCM has launched a green tourism initiative to reduce the carbon footprint of the industry. There are encouraging responses from the industry stakeholders, especially the hoteliers, who are determined to reduce waste and reduce energy usage.”

AIR TRAVEL DEVELOPMENTS Flight routes to Dubai are plentiful, with the emirate apparently expanding on its global appeal, despite tough conditions in the travel market. Ahmed Khoory, senior vice president, commercial operations Middle East, Gulf and Iran, Emirates Group, remarked on the airline’s positive results. “In our last fiscal year we had recorded high results in terms of the number of passengers, despite unforeseen challenges in the form of political instability and natural disasters. Our current fiscal year, which began in April, has also proven to be strong for us thus far, despite regional political instability.” New destinations added by Emirates thus far for this year include Basra, Geneva and Copenhagen, while, continuing to expand its network, future routes will include St. Petersburg, to be launched in November, Baghdad, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Dublin, Dallas, Seattle, Lusaka and Harare. Seen as an expanding market, flydubai, too, has increased its services to Russia by adding Kazan and Ufa to its network, and has included further flights to Ukraine. GREEN INITIATIVES Responding to pressures to be more efficient, as well more sustainable, the Emirates Group has revealed that its CO2 emissions are considerably better than the airline average. “We always attempt to invest in new technology and innovative solutions to maintain eco-efficiency and sustainable development,” explained Khoory.

Damac Properties, one of the most highly regarded developers in the region, bringing luxury products, introduced a new luxury apartments management service, Damac Suites & Spa, to cater to the growing demand for serviced premises. The new company will oversee Damac Properties’ first serviced apartments development, the 49 storey Burjside Boulevard, located in the exclusive Dubai Downtown, opposite the Dubai Mall. Al Habtoor Group is also exploiting the situation and has re-launched its multimillion-dollar hotel development on Palm Jumeirah Island in Dubai, while Eta Star Hospitality has two properties in the pipeline, one on Palm Jumeirah and the other on Salahuddin Road, both due to open soon. Melia Dubai is to open this year, with an expected date of December 15, although this is still to be confirmed, while Conrad Dubai is still set to open mid 2012 and Sheraton Dubai Sheikh Zayed Road is due to be launched in January, 2014. Prior to this, in January 2012, the Jumeirah Group will reveal Jumeirah Creekside Hotel. Khor Fakkan Hotel Project from Shurooq will add to the emirate’s accommodation offering, although hotel management information is not yet confirmed. Further plans are emerging in Dubai, while the emirate thrives and diversifies. With a historic election recently seeing 20 new members elected to the UAE’s advisory council, the Federal National Council (FNC), the Government’s contribution to tourism may well receive new insights.

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UAE

Sharjah

Al Majaz Waterfront

Rapid expansion of the travel and tourism market was experienced in the dynamic and industrious emirate of Sharjah in 2010 and this has persisted, with displaced tourism as well as a focus on attracting new markets set to continue the trend.  Marianna Keen writes

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harjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) has promoted Sharjah as the ideal tourism destination in the Gulf for those wishing to experience the true culture, rituals and lifestyle of the Arab region, while an increased focus on business travel has been adopted. The emirate, which has been a pioneer in promoting MICE tourism, offers the fullyequipped Expo Centre, attracting exhibitors from across the region and beyond. This sector is set to expand further, according to Tariq Al Naqbi, head of media division, SCTDA. “The emirate is home to the majority of the UAE’s industries and production and packaging companies. Sharjah also boasts world class infrastructure and hospital-

Eye of the Emirates, Al Qasba

ity industry. This is why SCTDA is aggressively targeting the MICE tourism market, and we expect massive growth in this area in the years to come. Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) also marketed Sharjah’s readiness for MICE visits, helping to progress the sector. Shurooq promotes Al Qasba as a defining tourism initiative, recently having launched its state-of-the-art business centre and meeting and conference halls at Multaqa Al Qasba. Another unique project under Shurooq’s management is Splash Park, an 800m2 garden-themed aquatic facility for all the family, at Sharjah’s Al Majaz Waterfront, which it has announced will open by the end of the year. The complex marks Shurooq’s work to encourage investment and tourism in the emirate of Sharjah. EXPANDING VISITOR MARKETS Sharjah’s tourism sector has been growing from strength to strength, keeping pace with the latest trends and practices in the global tourism industry, including attracting new and emerging markets. “In the first half of this year, Sharjah received 768,061 visitors and the majority of them came from European nations and neighbouring GCC countries. This year, we stepped up our efforts to target the local, regional and international tourism markets,” commented Al Naqbi. Currently, Europeans make up 40 percent of the source market in Sharjah’s travel and tourism market, with Germans and Russians dominating, according to SCTDA figures. The GCC accounts for 29 percent, with Saudi Arabia leading the way, and Asia provides 18 percent of visitors. “We are looking to attract more tourists from Asia, especially from a booming market like China,” explained Al Naqbi. Tourist numbers from India are expected to rise following a boost in capacity by Jet Airways, which commenced daily flights from Sharjah to Thiruvananthapuram from October 30. ACCOMMODATION Sharjah’s hotels and hotel apartments recorded 75 percent occupancy in the first six months of the year, with a 16 percent rise in the number of hotel room and hotel apartment room nights, according to SCTDA. The guests were roughly split between the 46 hotels or the 60 hotel apartments, according to Al Naqbi. The rise in occupancy was somewhat unexpected, leading to adaptations in hotel plans, as highlighted by Kamal Rijhwani, director of sales and marketing, Radisson Blu Resort Sharjah. “Renovation was planned for summer this year but did not happen. Renovation is still planned; it has just been pushed by the needs of the high season of 2011-2012. In a manner, the displaced tourism can be assigned as a cause for the delay.” Hotel projects in the emirate include Hilton Sharjah, scheduled to open May 2012, Four Points by Sheraton Sharjah, expected to open December 2012 and Sheraton Sharjah hotel, which is set to open June 2012. Omer Kaddouri, executive vice president, operation, Rotana, commented on the company’s expansion in the region. “The last few months have seen the hospitality industry, in the UAE especially, register positive growth. Recently, we announced the opening of our 28th property in the UAE, Centro Sharjah.” NOVEMBER 2011


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UAE

Ras Al Khaimah The travel and tourism industry in Ras al Khaimah (RAK) has progressed significantly in past years, diversifying its offering, with a focus on adventure and value for money, supported by heritage and cultural attractions.

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Furthermore, cultural heritage and historic sites attract domestic as well as international visitors, although this is now considered, by RAK TIDA, as a supporting sector of the industry, rather than a prime focus. Other attractions include the multi-dimensional Al Hamra village and the popular WOW RAK, managed by Polo RAK Amusement, which currently operates the unique Ice Land Water Park, opened in 2010. The second phase, comprising of a chalet-type seaside resort and a shopping mall, are expected to open in the coming months. Planet Earth theme park is also scheduled to open in the development, in 2013. AIR TRAVEL

Desert Safari

 Marianna Keen writes

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he northern emirate, blessed with white sand beaches, undulating sand dunes and some spectacular historic sites, is rapidly expanding to exploit its many assets. Recent political instability in the region has even aided RAK’s market, following re-directed tourism reaching the emirate. Amid industry growth, a new tourism board has been introduced, explained Victor Louis, chief operating officer, RAK Tourism Investment and Development Authority (TIDA). “The tourism strategy for RAK over the last year has taken significant strides across the board. In May, RAK TIDA was established as a Government of RAK entity. It is responsible for establishing the emirate as a premier quality-value destination for leisure, adventure and business travel. In order to achieve these goals, the authority has a government mandate to license, regulate and monitor the emirate’s hospitality industry.” The new entity will oversee various activities, including business and investment development, commercial and research activities, licensing, public relations and marketing. “Clear strategic goals have been set that include doubling the total number of annual visitors to RAK to 1.2 million by 2013 and increasing the emirate’s total hotel and resort room inventory to 10,000 keys by 2016,” added Louis. HOTELS AND PROMOTION Projects to help the emirate reach this accommodation goal have already been initiated, and will add to NOVEMBER 2011

RAK’s existing 21 hotels ranging between three and five stars. The 700 room Marjan Island family resort, being developed on five man-made islands off the coast of RAK is scheduled to open by October 2012, informed Louis. Another upcoming property is Banyan Tree Al Wadi, a luxury resort located in the heart of a private natural reserve in the desert, considered to be the first of its kind in the Gulf region. The Government signed an agreement with Rakeen Development in May, completing the acquisition of the exclusive desert resort, for which the authority is currently overlooking a master plan for expansion and upgrade. It is hoped that the hotel will lead on to similar projects, which value and promote the emirate’s natural heritage and unique landscape. RAK’s natural heritage has helped it to become a sought after destination for adventure and sports holidays, away from more developed areas, enabling it to create a niche for itself. “RAK has its own unique identity, with a diversity of landscapes that make it the perfect gateway for leisure, adventure and value for money experiences,” continued Louis. The emirate presents a broad selection of ecofriendly outdoor activities, including hiking, mountain climbing, cycling and kayaking.

The convenient location of RAK International Airport has enabled it to be a connecting point for travellers, in addition to luring visitors to the emirate’s own appealing attributes. Set for further expansion in the coming years, the airport has been a catalyst for the economic expansion of Ras Al Khaimah. Two of the main operators of charter flights to the airport are Fly Jet and Air Berlin, bringing travellers from various destinations, including Eastern Europe. RAK Airways, the emirate’s national airline, is continually expanding its reach and from November will offer two flights per week to Peshwar and Lahore, which have been newly introduced to its network. Omar Jahameh, CEO, RAK Airways, commented on the airline’s expansion in the midst of a momentous year. “Our first anniversary is an important milestone in the making of our history, and a major stepping stone to more exciting developments, including new routes, which we will be announcing very soon.” “Load factors averaged around the 80 percent mark for the majority of flights throughout the first year of the airline’s re-launch. Such high demand confirms that we are consistently delivering what our passengers want – small fares and big deals,” concluded Jahmeh. In a market full of increasingly budget aware consumers, amid insecurity of the global economic climate, RAK appears to have embarked on a durable path, with promising prospects for the future.


14

VISIT

UAE

Fujairah Improving infrastructure and connectivity are helping to increase tourism to heritage-rich Fujairah since a lull experienced in 2010.  Marianna Keen writes

F

ujairah has proved itself to be an emerging emirate, pursuing with developments from transport to tourist attractions. Instability affected the number of tourists in 2010 and in the beginning of this year, although it has improved and significant growth is expected. Furqan Shah, director of sales and marketing, Coral Suites Hotel, elaborated on the environment. “The turmoil did impact on the rate of growth in business and the number of tourists has been reduced for some time, but it is getting better now. Business overall grew this year compared with 2010.” Some hotels have achieved up to 70 percent occupancy despite a rapid change in the market place in light of new hotel openings at the end of 2010 and in 2011, suggested Shah.

A contributing trend is the rise in domestic tourism, commented Hossam Kamal, hotel manager, Fujairah Rotana Resort & Spa. “Local tourism and holidaying closer to home witnessed a significant increase of 32 to 36 percent comparing to 2009 and 2010.” Hotels offering luxury, such as Le Méridien Al Aqah Beach Resort, are popular with domestic and international visitors.

Advancements have also been made in the aviation industry, with Fujairahbased Al Hajjar Aviation set to launch its new airline Fujairah City Center, a shopping mall and retail park, is expected to open in Q3 2012 and dominate the retail landscape of Fujairah. Furthermore, the immense Sheikh Zayed Mosque project is expected to open in mid 2012, becoming a significant landmark in the city.

Shah commented that in addition to these attractions, infrastructural developments will also improve the emirate’s image and bring in visitors. “Fujairah Government and chamber [of commerce]’s efforts to establish business in free zones, create a media city, support oil and gas exports, develop the electricity power plant, support and establish import and export, develop more hospitals, maintain social, cultural and heritage activities and attract sports events are key.” A new highway, which will connect Fujairah with Dubai and is due to open by the end of the year, promises economic benefits, including increased visits by tourists residing in Dubai. Advancements have also been made in the aviation industry, with Fujairah-based Al Hajjar Aviation set to launch its new airline. The project name was recently changed from Al Hajjar Air to Eastern Express to render the signature better suited to its operations, as Mike Carvath, business and development manager of the airline explained. “Once investors joined the board, a decision was made to name it Eastern Express, which reflects both the operational base and type of service – short and fast. Our operational launch will be Fujairah to Abu Dhabi during the first quarter of 2012. The new airport in Dubai, Dubai world Central (DWC), could well feature in the future. Regional GCC routes will be added and eventually Indian Sub-Continent.”

NOVEMBER 2011


VISIT

UAE

15

Umm Al Quwain and Ajman Umm Al Quwain, whose main attraction has been its small size, relatively remote location and long clean beaches, has seen a boom in adventure sports, while Ajman has taken strides with innovative new developments.

Ajman One Project

 Marianna Keen writes

T

he two smallest emirates in the UAE have benefitted from unrest throughout the Arab world, attracting travellers in search of serenity and safety, in which to enjoy their sporting passions or relax. Activities offered in Umm Al Quwain include water sports, as well as shooting and horse riding, and adrenaline inducing activities, such as sky diving, motorcycle racing and pilot training. The emirate is adding to its offering for recuperation and water based activities with the Emaar Umm Al Quwain Marina, an estimated AED12.119 billion (USD3.3 billion) project. Construction is well underway along the extensive coast of the lagoon of Khor Al Beidah, although no completion date has been confirmed by Emaar. Along with the emirate’s economic growth and developments, particularly since the Arab Spring, visitors have flocked to Umm Al Quwain, suggested Maria Caguete, general manager, Palma Beach Resort & Spa. “Our performance is better than in 2010, in terms of volume of guests and revenue.” Turmoil throughout the region has had no effect on the hotel’s source markets, continued Caguete, and little change has been noted in the ratio of business and leisure guests. Dreamland Aqua Park, has been a main attraction for Umm Al Quwain and is set to expand, commented Dale Peñalosa, secretary. “We are in the process of developing a new attraction ride that will surely be one of our main attractions.” Details of the new addition are still under wraps, but motivation for it is clear, amid a company strategy to develop the tourist market. So far, visitor numbers and revenue have been similar to those recorded in 2010. Several developments have also been re-ignited NOVEMBER 2011

in Ajman, the smallest of the seven emirates, demonstrating the momentous changes that instability in the region has instigated. The emirate is still, however, being cautious not to compromise its primary attraction to tourists – its natural beauty. Al Zorah Resorts is now paving the way towards a luxury compound for recreation and relaxation, which embraces nature. The project, master-planned by Solidere International and developed by Al Zorah Development Company Limited, in partnership with the Ajman Government, will be located on the northern coast of the emirates. Another development, Ajman One Project, which is the flagship venture of Aqaar Properties LLC, plans to offer shopping, business and leisure facilities, a residential complex and hotels, within a single development. The first stage is almost complete, informed Hamed Parnian, business development manager, Aqaar Properties LLC. “The first phase of the Ajman One Project, consisting of 12 residential towers, podium, health clubs and retail units is planned for completion towards the first quarter of 2012.” Upon achievement of this, the second phase of the project will be launched, which consists of three commercial towers and a hospitality complex, comprising a four-star business hotel with extensive exhibition areas. Novotel Ajman

is the proposed property to be based in the development. Further plans for the project include developing an extensive marina and transforming Ajman’s entire waterfront. Aqaar expresses it will preserve beaches in order to enhance the beauty of the landscape. In the course of developments, Ajman has raised its position as a MICE venue of choice. Iftikhar Hamdani, general manager, Ramada Ajman, elaborated on the hotel’s response to the changing market. “Ramada Ajman, the largest hotel in the northern emirates has opened the door this year, of its Majestic Ball Room, with capacity of 1000.” Occupancy of the hotel has increased in this pivotal year, as it has across the emirates. “Our year to date occupancy is 87 percent as compared to 60 percent in 2010,” remarked Hamdani, adding that German tourist flow has increased tremendously amid a 100 percent rise in the leisure segment compared with 2010. The Indian market is also active with year to date figures showing 11,500 room nights, while Pakistanis contributed 5900 room nights. Recently the hotel signed a contract with its partner from the CIS market, in an aim to bring in Russian tourists, concluded Hamdani. With considerable growth underway in both Ajman and Umm Al Quwain, investment and tourist numbers look well underway to achieve prosperity for the emirates, however it is hoped that the cost, in terms of their natural heritage, will be reduced.


16

EXPLORE

Iran

Iran in Need of a Tourism Boost Iran ranks low among Middle Eastern nations in terms of the number of foreign visitors it attracts, on a par with war-torn countries like Iraq and Lebanon. Although the country offers many tourist attractions, it is yet to become a choice destination. Travel Trade Monthly discovers Iran’s tourism growth potential.

Jameh Mosque

Persepolis

IRAN IN BRIEF

 Dominique Christou writes

I

ran is home to some of the richest artistic traditions. It holds a vast selection of architecture, painting, weaving, pottery and metal work. These industries play a big role in the country's tourism as travellers enjoy exploring the traditions, ways of life and 15 of UNESCO’S World Heritage Sites, which are creations of Iranian architecture. Despite the country’s hardships and its political situation, locals' friendliness and its outstanding sites and architecture are major factors to lure tourists to the region. The World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has indicated that Iran is not meeting its full potential, as international tourism bought more than USD50 billion into the Middle East in 2010, where Iran only bought around four percent of the amount. A number of Egyptian and Iranian tourism agencies have signed a tourism agreement in order to facilitate the exchange of tourists between the two countries. The cooperation is based on 10,000 Iranian nationals being able to travel to Egypt monthly, while 60,000 Egyptians can visit Iran annually. Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organisation (ICHHTO) noted that the recent investment in the transportation industry and other structural services, has paved the way to suitable sectors for domestic and foreign tourists. Due to the development of transportation networks, Iran stands next to Turkey and the UAE as a tourism target. FARS SHOPPING COMPLEX Shiraz foresees a tourism boost with the development of Fars Shopping Complex. The USD830 million development is a Royal Star project and will offer over 2,500 shops, a cinema, a hypermarket, an indoor amusement park and many more exciting attractions. The world-class shopping mall will be Iran’s biggest

Capital: Tehran Currency: Iranian Rial (IRR) Language: Persian

complex yet. Burj Fars Hotel, a luxurious five star hotel, is set to be located at one end of the mall and is scheduled to open towards the end of 2012. The complex is to set to be huge tourism boost in the region, offering travellers a new exciting attraction. Hamzah Abu Zannad, director of operations, Royal Star, commented on the new development. “Royal Star is thrilled with the launch of this world class project. Not only will this mall be the world’s largest in terms of retail space but will also put Shiraz in the spotlight as one of the emerging destinations in the Middle East region.” AVIATION Hossein Hosseini, director marketing, Mahan Air, commented on the changing of flight performance to Iran. “This year has been a fantastic year for us. During the first six months of the year, we have carried 47 percent more passengers, offered 21 percent capacity in terms of available seat kilometres (ASK) and load factors jumped from 72 percent to 78 percent.” Hosseini states that Mahan Air is constantly on the lookout for opportunities in the region but it is not believed that any new routes in the Middle East and North Africa regions will commence during the first half of 2012. "We have been adding capacity and destinations from our hub in Tehran to the Far East during the past couple of years and we will see more of the same, perhaps at a more rapid rate, in 2012,” Hosseini stated, on the expansion of international flights. “The size of the Iranian domestic market was 16.1 million passengers in 2010 which is considered sig-

Not only will this mall be the world’s largest in terms of retail space but it will also put Shiraz in the spotlight as one of the emerging destinations nificant in this part of the world and should not be ignored. We have gained domestic market share by additional capacity and providing service levels far superior to our domestic competitors. The market has been growing at a seven percent rate on average during the first five years and we are intending to have approximately 45 percent market share by 2014 from the current 23 percent.” HOTELS Although Iran lacks any infrastructure of internationally branded hotels, it offers a variety of independent five-star hotels in the region, including LalahInternational Hotel and Esteghlal Hotel. NOVEMBER 2011


Iraq

EXPLORE

17

Iraq Building towards a Better Future  Dominique Christou writes

I

raq and tourism are two words which are not typically used simultaneously, but according to the World Travel Market (WTM) Global Trends report 2010, Iraq is to become a future hotspot for tourism. With a variety of new hotel openings and increased air services, the country is well on its way to rebuilding its tourism industry. According to government sources, Kurdistan is to attract more than five million tourists by 2015. Data has revealed that 800,000 tourists made a visit to Iraq in 2010, in comparison with 1.3 million visitors in 2009. By the end of the year, the Ministry of Tourism and Municipalities expects to welcome more than two million tourists to Kurdistan. In 2010, business visitors and renewed interest from Gulf investors contributed to a 58 percent rise in business tourism in Kusrdistan.

Despite most of Iraq’s economic infrastructure having been destroyed in 2003, airline and hotel capacities are increasing. Travel Trade Monthly examines how the country's tourism industry is on the rise. Baghdad Erbil at Night

HOTELS Within the next four years, approximately 700 tourism accommodation developments are to be present in Iraq, and with visitor numbers on the rise, it is imperative that the hotel industry grows in order to cater to the increase. International hotel brands including, Marriott, Rotana, Hilton and Millenium and Copthorne are to make their mark in Iraq. Omer Kaddouri, executive vice president, Rotana, commented on the hotel chain's investments plans that are in the pipeline. “Rotana’s decision to operate in Iraq was due to a number of reasons. Firstly Rotana’s overall aim is to continue to be the leading hotel management company in the Middle East and Africa and our entry to Iraq was always part of our strategic aim.” Erbil Rotana which is now open will be followed in 2012 by Shams Rotana Hotel, Baghdad, which will be located within the International Green Zone, the heavily guarded diplomatic government area in the capital's centre. Aside from the scheduled Baghdad property which is yet to come online, Rotana is reviewing a number of projects, which will be of great benefit, with the industry playing a major role in the improvement of Iraq’s tourism. The country will benefit through Rotana's recognition that Iraq is a rich country that will rebound into the international business frontline much faster than ever before. The first Hilton Worldwide hotel, DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Erbil is due to open in 2013. With Kurdistan being described as an oasis of peace and stability with ancient cities, Hilton have chosen to begin this project in the upcoming region of the Middle East, aiming to cater to the needs of the increasing number of inbound tourists. Rob Palleschi, global head, DoubleTree by Hilton, NOVEMBER 2011

IRAQ IN BRIEF Capital: Baghdad Currency: Iraqi Dinar (IQD) Language: Arabic, Kurdish

commented on the planned project in Erbil. “I am delighted to be bringing our brand to such an important city in the Middle East. DoubleTree by Hilton has built its success on providing high standards of service and quality facilities in gateway cities, which makes it the ideal choice for Erbil’s thriving community.” By 2014, Erbil is to be home to two Marriott hotels. With the country’s rebuilding of infrastructure in its early stages, hotel development plays a major role. Jeff Strachan, vice president, sales and marketing, Middle East and Africa, Marriott International, commented on the upcoming developments. “We are always in discussions about various opportunities throughout the entire region. At this stage there is mainly business tourism flowing into Iraq. As things evolve, there will be opportunities to look at other segments of tourism.” AVIATION There are only a limited amount of flights into Iraq, served by a small number of approved airlines. Etihad Airways offers daily flights to Baghdad and recently commenced a twice weekly service from Abu Dhabi to Erbil. International carriers, including Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, Royal Jordanian and flydubai, among others, offer non-stop services from Europe and the Middle East to Iraq.

Northern Iraq

In order to boost tourism, Egyptair has resumed flights to Iraq after 21 years. The decision came about in order to build new markets and to link the country with Europe and North America through the Cairo hub. Hussein Massoud, CEO, Egyptian Air Holding, gave his insight on the impact of Egyptair's services to the country. “We started operating seven weekly flights to Iraq with four flights to Baghdad and three flights to Erbil. Egypt and Iraq are linked together with commercial and cultural bonds. Iraq represents a fertile market for the Egyptian investments.” The majority of flights are to the capital, with Emirates also having introduced serivices to Baghdad in October. The capital will be Emirates second Iraqi destination after Barsa. Ahmed Khoory, senior vice president, commercial operations, Gulf, Middle East and Iran, Emirates, commented on the new route. “Barsa has been a very successful first foray into Iraq for Emirates. We are confident that these positive booking numbers will also be reflected in our Baghdad operation.” As the country pushes its inbound tourism there is an interest for hotels to develop in the region along with airlines amplifying their services and routes. Iraq is to continue to grow into a popular Middle Eastern tourist destination, shining light on its famous historical attractions and cultural sites, luring travellers to the region.


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ONSITE

India

Incredible India to Take Pole Position Driven by the burgeoning middle class, a robust increase in high spending foreign tourist arrivals, and coordinated government campaigns, India has established itself as one of the tourism industry’s most talked-about markets. INDIA IN BRIEF Capital: New Delhi Currency: Indian Rupee (INR) Language: Hindi, English

Mariamman Teppakulam temple in Madurai

 Rita Kasziba writes

I

ndia’s dynamic development has lifted millions out of poverty and created a massive middle class with considerable purchasing power and an appetite for travel. In 2010, 12.07 million Indian nationals departed from the country, and inbound travel continued to flourish with 5.58 million visitors registered in 2010, up 8.1 percent over 2009. With an exceptionally robust growth, boosted by the government’s ‘Incredible India’ campaign, India’s tourism industry boasts enormous prospects. Supporting the country’s development, India has recently been elected chair of the United Nation’s South Asian Regional Commission for tourism. Indentifying sustainable, safe and honourable tourism as the pillars of India’s strategy, Subodh Kant Sahai, tourism minister, highlighted the country’s commitment to further development. “[The chairmanship] signifies the confidence of various countries in India and the efforts of the Indian government in promotion of tourism in the country, as well as across the globe, in a responsible and sustainable manner to bring in inclusive growth.” India’s tourism sector is predicted to experience a massive boom and, by the year 2016-2017, provide some 25 million jobs. With 2.92 million foreign tourist arrivals recorded in the first six months of the year (up 10.9 percent), India has a relevant chance to outstrip the latest figures. The large population of expatriates working and living in the Middle East, and the country’s close proximity to the Arab world, opens enormous opportunities to both regions. With a free trade agreement signed between the GCC and India, and a wide range of industries eyeing a bigger share of the pie, travel flow between the countries is expected to further prosper.

KERALA Besides its natural attractions, the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation’s extensive work established Kerala as a niche holiday destination, noted Rajkumar K., tourist information officer, Kerala Tourism. “In 2010, 6.59 million international tourists visited Kerala, which is an 18.3 percent increase compared with 2009. Kerala is emerging as a new age destination of the world which caters to enlightened travellers.” The state has long been popular with Arab travellers. “The Middle East is a strategic market for Kerala, because of its proximity and the large number of expatriates working there. Moreover, the Middle East, especially Dubai and Doha, with their strong air connectivity to Kerala, are key getaways to the state for tourists from Europe. We are trying to work on this market by leveraging the air connections and proximity. Around 15,684 visitors from the UAE and 14,967 visitors from Saudi Arabia visited Kerala in 2010, followed by 4,500 tourists from Oman and 3,850 from Kuwait.” AIRLINES Jet Airways already boasts an extensive network and is to further strengthen its presence in the Arab world, commented Ratan Ratnakar, vice president, market development and pricing. “We currently operate 22 daily services to the Gulf. There has been a constant improvement [in the routes performance] over the past two years hence we have increased frequencies to the region. We are always looking for growth opportunities in the Middle East and Africa.” The launch of the winter schedule saw Air India

Express increase its operations to Oman and the airline has also launched a new flight from Abu Dhabi to Chennai via Tiruchirapalli. Harjeet Sawhney, manager Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Air India Express, commented on the developments. “Air India Express is pleased to announce this increase in frequency on the Chennai – Abu Dhabi route, which reflects our commitment to providing convenient services to our passengers.” After five years of successful operation in domestic skies, September marked IndiGo’s launch of maiden international flights on the Delhi-Dubai, Delhi-Bangkok and Delhi-Singapore routes. Just a month later, India’s fastest growing airline has further expanded its global network by connecting Mumbai to Dubai and Bangkok. Despite fierce competition in the Middle East skies, the new services have fast proved popular, stated Aditya Ghosh, president, IndiGo. “We hope to provide the much needed avenue for countless Indians to explore wider horizons and at the same time open up the doors to more and more overseas travellers. We have received a great response from our customers on our recently launched international flights and we feel quite encouraged.” HOTELS Driven by agressive strategies from two big players, Hyatt International and Marriott International, India’s hospitality sector is to see a drastic reformation. “Hyatt Hotels' pipeline includes 14 Hyatt Regency, five Grand Hyatt, four Park Hyatt, 14 Hyatt Place and one Andaz hotel under development,” commented Yasmin Poonegar, director of corporate communications, Hyatt International, Southwest Asia. “Park Hyatt Hyderabad and Park Hyatt Chennai will be the first city Park Hyatts in India and therefore most anticipated,” she added. Marriott International senses immense opportunities in India and aims to aggressively expand its portfolio, noted Khushnooma Kapadia, director of marketing communications, Marriott India. “We have aggressive growth plans. We are on a journey to have 100 hotels and over 15,000 rooms up and running by 2015. We are 12 years old in India and our journey started in 1999. Now we have an inventory of 3200 rooms across five brands.” Marriott will soon introduce a new brand to the Indian market, The Fairfield, which will aim at filling the 3-star category requirement on par with international standards. “The Indian travel and tourism industry is expected to become the second largest employer in the world by 2019 thanks to the country’s unparalleled growth prospects coupled with the potential to generate business opportunities. Also, the government has allowed 100 percent foreign investment in the hotel and tourism sector which makes India an ideal place for investment.” NOVEMBER 2011


20

TOUR

Czech Republic

Pampering Body and Mind When travellers think of the Czech Republic, they often picture the scenic views of Prague, however there is much more to the country than its spectacular scenery and Bohemian heritage. By drawing on a wide range of promotional tools and developments, the country is now reaching out to the Arab market. Prague

Prague

 Rita Kasziba writes

F

ollowing the dissolution of Czechoslovakia at the end of 1992, the Czech Republic has fast developed into one of the popular and most quaint destinations in Europe with the highest human development index in the region. Following a backslide in the financial crisis-stricken 2009, as the whole economy crumbled, losses spread into both outbound and inbound tourism. Alice Dvorakova, head of media department, Czech Tourism, elaborates on how the implementation of an elaborate strategy, targeting key markets, paid dividends in 2010, with the number of guests surging 1.9 percent. “2010 was the year of recovery not only in the Czech Republic, but worldwide. After the global recession, people started to travel again.” The country has long neglected the Arab region’s importance, and is yet to fully tap into it. “Unfortunately, the Czech Statistical Office does not monitor tourist arrivals from most of the Arab countries. However, travellers coming to the Czech Republic via Prague airport, from the UAE, in 2010, amounted to 17,288; from Lebanon to 12,762; from Saudi Arabia to 6,972; from Syria to 6,237 and from Egypt to 12,252.” With air transport options now enhancing, the country is to create a stronger brand image in the Arab world. The interest from these countries is definitely on the rise according to Dvorakova, with most of the visitors arriving to discover Prague or to spend their holiday at one of the famous spa centres. “There are now direct flights from Abu Dhabi to Prague with Etihad and flights from Dubai with Emirates. The Czech Republic is also part of the Schengen area, so it is possible to obtain a visa for more countries.” The country positions itself as a good product for

CZECH REPUBLIC IN BRIEF Capital: Prague

step towards deeper and more intensive cooperation in the future.” Hana Hejskova, communications director, Czech Airlines, further elaborated on the partnership. “The connections either already include, or will very soon include, key cities in the Middle East, on the Indian subcontinent and in Asia. The agreement also allows Etihad passengers to book flights straight through to Prague and beyond to other Czech Airlines services routes.” Besides Etihad and the Czech Airlines’ codeshare services, Emirates operates scheduled flights to Prague. The daily non-stop services, launched in July 2010, are expected to further boost travel and trade between the countries. HOTELS

Currency: Czech Korona (CZK) Language: Czech, Slovak

The country positions itself as a good product for the Arab market, as the destination of manifold options, from luxury holidays at Czech spas to deluxe stays at castles the Arab market, as the destination of manifold options, from luxury holidays at Czech spas to deluxe stays at castles, and as the junction that enables convenient travel to discover the rest of Europe. “The Czech Tourism Authority does not have an office in the MENA region, however, we are preparing some marketing activities targeting this market, above all, in cooperation with Czech Embassies in the Middle East. In February, spa workshops were carried out in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, with the participation of five Czech spa representatives,” added Dvorakova. AIRLINES Flag carrier, Czech Airlines, has recently debuted in the UAE, after signing a codeshare agreement with Etihad Airways, which saw the European airline commence direct flights to Abu Dhabi at the end of September. The alliance is to substantiate Czech Airlines’ presence in the Middle Eastern market. Philippe Moreels, vice president of economics, Czech Airlines, commented on the new codeshare. “Czech Airlines is an important player on the European market but on a global scale it is difficult to compete without strong partners. It is merely the first

Although the country is not abounding with upcoming hotel openings, its rising profile is well demonstrated in the hospitality sector’s steadily improving performance. Kempinski Hotel Hybernská, located in the heart of the capital city, has experienced a significant surge in guest numbers. Lana Malnikova, PR executive director, Eastern Europe, Kempinski Hotel Hybernská, commented on the hotels performance. “There was 24 percent increase in room occupancy, and the forecast for the whole year is very positive. Kempinksi Prague expects a strong increase in both revenue and room occupancy. Guests from the Middle East and North Africa spent more than 200 nights at the hotel so far this year, and we expect significant increase in the upcoming period.” Kempinski Prague has also reached out to the Middle East in other ways, Czech Airlines chose the prestigious hotel and its chef to prepare the in-flight menu for business class passengers on the Prague – Abu Dhabi route. “The demands, in terms of the quality of service in business class, are always increasing. If we want to do well in the tough competition that prevails on the air carriage market, we must be able to offer our clients something above-standard,” commented Jiri Marek, vice president of sales and marketing, Czech Airlines. The hotel company is now to further cement its position in the country with the opening of a new property. “Kempinski Hotel Marienbad is set to become a new resort jewel once it opens its doors in the famous Czech spa town, Marianske Lazne. The 80-room boutique property will welcome its first guests in the fourth quarter of 2014,” concluded Malnikova. NOVEMBER 2011


LONGHAUL

Australia

21

Australia’s Boost for Business Tourism Australia is renowned for its scenic nature and vast variety of adventure tourism activities, along with being a popular business destination. Travel Trade Monthly examines how business travel in Australia is on the rise with tourism authorities aiming to boost inbound tourism. AUSTRALIA IN BRIEF Capital: Canberra Currency: Australian Dollar (AUD) Language: English

 Dominique Christou writes

I

n 2010, Tourism Western Australia (Tourism WA), the state Government's tourism agency, set out a new strategic direction and launched its new campaign, Experience Extraordinary, in order to boost the territory's tourism. Stephanie Buckland, CEO, Tourism WA, commented on the product. “The brand encapsulates all that is unique about Western Australia and its landscapes, people, culture, events and experiences.” In 2010, international visitor numbers to WA rose 5.3 percent and tourist spending was up 5.6 percent over 2009 figures. According to Tourism Research, Australia’s International Visitor Survey, an estimate of 4,300 visitors from the Middle East and North Africa came to WA with figures ending June 2011. WA has a very multicultural population with a society incorporating more than 200 nationalities. “We have many halal restaurants and Tourism WA has developed a Muslim Visitors Guide,” stated Buckland. According to the international visitor survey, Victoria has attracted more international overnight visitors to the state than ever recorded, reaching 1.73 million visitors for the year ending June. International visitor expenditure in Victoria grew by 7.4 percent to AUD4.2 billion (USD4.3 billion). This is the highest spend on record and outperformed growth by other key competitor states, New South Wales (+7.2 percent) and Queensland (-6.0 percent), as well as the national average (+4.4 percent). Lindsay Goding, business development manager, North Asia and Gulf countries, Tourism Victoria, commented on Middle Eastern and North African tourism to the country. “The UAE and Saudi Arabia account for between 80-90 percent of all the arrivals from the Gulf to Australia. These two countries are the two priority markets.” Melbourne, being one of the most multicultural communities in the world, caters to MENA travellers. There are mosques and halal foods are available, ensureNOVEMBER 2011

ing great access for visitors from the Arab world. Paul Buggy, international director, Tourism Queensland, gave his comments on how Queensland caters to Arab travellers. “Many of our attractions, theme parks and shopping centres have adapted to the Muslim culture by offering prayer rooms and signs indicating the direction of Mecca. Bus transfers to the mosque for Friday prayers are also provided.” With the territory offering a vast amount of services to MENA travellers, Buggy states that the Middle East is a priority market for Tourism Queensland. Visitors from the market are long stay and high yield. “Tourism Queensland will continue to engage with the travel industry in the region to lift the number of visitors who want to experience the destination.”

Australia’s economy remains one of the strongest in the world

Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House “The number of MENA travellers has been boosted by a sizable Australian expat population in the Middle East.” As the Middle East is a massive growth area for Australia, both outbound and inbound, Accor is also benefiting from having its brands well exposed in the Middle East market. An additional hotel is the Park Hyatt Sydney that has rebuilt its spectacular residence, marking its 21st birthday. The development is due to re-open in December, with the new building making its presence known internationally. Lara Dawson, public relations manager, Park Hyatt Sydney, commented on the project. “This is the largest renovation in the history of the hotel.” Australia is now also home to the five-star luxurious Soul complex in surfer’s paradise on Queenslan's Gold Coast and The Darling Hotel and Spa, which is the first five-star new build hotel in Sydney since the 2000 Olympic Games. AVIATION

MICE Penny Lion, general manager, Business Events Australia, commented on MICE travellers into the country. “Business events contribute a substantial amount to the Australian economy. In terms of visitor delegate expenditure, MICE contributed AUD8.5 billion (USD8.64 billion) to Australia’s economy in 2010.” MICE or business event travellers are also Australia’s highest yielding visitors, spending more on average per night than the average traveller. HOTELS Simon McGrather, vice president, Accor Hotels, Australia, gave his insight on the country's tourism.

Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways and Emirates Airlines all fly from the MENA region to Australia, with regular services. Etihad signed a codeshare agreement with Qantas Airlines while Qatar Airways offers direct flights from Doha to Melbourne. Emirates is committed to progressive growth and driving new opportunities in the Australian market. Richard Jewsbury, senior vice president, commercial operations, Far East and Australasia, Emirates, commented on the flights. “The routes have performed exceptionally well this year. Emirates has no expansion plans to announce at this stage but the airline recently reinstated its third daily service out of Sydney, offering a same day departure from Australia and arrival in Europe.”


22

LONGHAUL

New Zealand

New Zealand to Increase Tourism

NEW ZEALAND IN BRIEF Capital: Wellington Currency: New Zealand Dollar (NZD) Language: English

 Dominique Christou writes

Bay of Islands, New Zealand

With a mere population of four million, with spectacular landscapes for visitors to enjoy, New Zealand is a popular travel destination for extreme sports and adventure tourism. Travel Trade Monthly explores New Zealand’s strategy for improving tourism.

F

rom pleasant relaxing holidays to adventurous extreme sporting vacations, New Zealand offers a great deal of tourism facilities. The country caters to MICE travellers through its convention centres which aim to boost tourism in the region. The Future Tourism Statement sets out Government priorities for New Zealand's tourism industry for the next parliamentary term 2011-2014. The Tourism Industry Association (TIA) believes that achieving these priorities will help build a thriving tourism industry, which will be fundamental to the new government achieving its economic growth. Ann Marie Johnson, communications manager, TIA, gives an insight into Middle Eastern traffic to New Zealand. “At present, New Zealand welcomes about 7,000 visitors a year from the UAE. These numbers are not expected to change significantly in the coming years unless new air services are introduced from that region.The Future Tourism Statement is set out to fulfill growth potential in the tourism industry through certain priorities.” The statement aims to provide relevant information, thus indicating that dynamic changes within the industry and economy, such as the delivery of relevant and timely information, is critical for business planning. New Zealand’s top five visitor markets are Australia, the UK, the US, China and Japan. The industry’s focus at present is on growing arrivals from Asian markets, including China and India, and maintaining arrivals from traditional markets. CONVENTIONS AND INCENTIVES NEW ZEALAND Conventions and Incentives New Zealand (CINZ), takes the lead role in increasing the destination's convention and meeting activity from international and domestic sources, for the benefit of its membership, principal stakeholders and the country's economy. Alan Trotter, chief executive, CINZ, elaborated on the figures of inbound delegates. “CINZ currently contributes in excess of NZD1 billion (USD792 million) to the New Zealand economy of which a quarter comes from international arrivals.” Australia is the biggest market for inbound delegates and currently represents around 60 percent of the 70,000 delegates, noted Trotter. The Middle East is not a significant market for CINZ presently with very few delegates from the region travelling to the island for conventions and incentives. AVIATION Emirates Airlines offers daily flights to Christchurch and three-times-daily flights to Auckland, making the carrier a popular choice for travellers. Emirates provides connectivity through Australia’s eastern capitals of Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney to its Dubai hub and connecting to over 60 cities in the Middle East, Africa and Europe. Richard Jewsbury, senior vice president, commercial operations, Emirates, commented on the airline's performance this year so far. “Emirates' routes to New Zealand have developed exceptionally well this year, especially during the recent Rugby World Cup, of which Emirates was one of the worldwide partners.” Etihad also offers flights to the island through a codeshare agreement with Air New Zealand. NOVEMBER 2011


TRAVEL CHANNELS

23

UNWTO: International Tourists to Reach 1.8 Billion International tourist arrivals are projected to hit 1.8 billion by 2030, based on the World Tourism Organisation’s (UNWTO) recently released long-term forecast.

A

ccording to the Tourism Towards 2030 report, international tourism will continue to grow in the period 2010-2030, although with a more moderate pace. With a projected average worldwide increase of 3.3 percent, an additional 43 million international travellers are forecasted to join the tourism marketplace every year. At the predicted pace of growth, arrivals are expected to exceed one billion by 2012 (up from 940 million in 2010), and reach 1.8 billion by 2030. With the projected growth, the industry is likely to become the catalyst for the economy, noted Taleb Rifai, secretary general, UNWTO. “The next 20 years will be of continued growth for the sector, a more moderate, responsible and

NOVEMBER 2011

inclusive growth. This growth offers immense possibilities as these can also be years of leadership, with tourism leading economic growth, social progress and environmental sustainability.” Emerging economies are expected to continue growing at double pace (+4.4 percent) compared to advanced economies. In absolute terms, the emerging economies of Asia, Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, Eastern Mediterranean Europe, and Middle East and Africa will gain an average 30 million arrivals a year, compared to 14 million in advanced economies. By 2015, emerging economies will receive more international tourist arrivals than advanced ones. Asia-Pacific, as well as the Middle East and Africa, will continue gaining market share, and by 2030 North East Asia will become the most

Taleb Rifai visited sub-region in the world. Outbound tourism is projected to witness exceptional growth in Asia and the Pacific (+17 million arrivals a year), while the Middle East is expected to contribute to the growth with two million additional arrivals every year.


TRAVEL TALK

travel talk is your space

24

Michael Sorgenfrey

Ahmed El-Meligui

General manager, Grand Millennium Al Wahda.

Director of sales and marketing, Salalah Marriott Resort.

“The first year for any hotel is crucial, and the fact that we are getting such positive feedback scores from our guests means that we are listening to our guests and meeting or even exceeding their expectations by going the extra mile. The great reviews is a tribute to the commitment of our colleagues. Our internal anniversary event is an acknowledgement and a thank you for their dedication and hard work.”

The first year for any hotel is crucial

“We are constantly working on enhancing our product and services in order to exceed our customer’s expectations. The live entertainment in the resort will be enhanced for the second year in operation. A professional animation team will ensure an exciting day-time programme for all age-groups and throughout the winter season there will be live music on five evenings in the Cove Pub. The property has seen constant improvements in performance and services since opening its doors in March 2010 and we have positioned us as the perfect escape for everyone who is looking for absolute relaxation in a peaceful surrounding.”

Pascal Eppink General manager, Banyan Tree Al Wadi.

“Banyan Tree’s vision has always been to grow into a global business, with a portfolio of properties strategically placed around the world. As part of our diversification strategy, we are already managing properties across the globe; in the Middle East, Asia Pacific and the Americas, and with close to 40 more projects in the pipeline, we fully expect to be on track to fulfilling our global aspirations.”

Banyan Tree’s vision has always been to grow into a global business

TRAVEL TALK IS YOUR SPACE – this is a casual forum for travel industry professionals to discuss current issues and share stories. We want to hear from you, so send your comments, questions, frustrations and observations to editorial@traveltradeweekly.travel NOVEMBER 2011


Medical Travel

The Journey to Recovery  Rita Kasziba writes

D

ue to its comprehensive benefits and rich economic returns to the tourism industry, travelling for the purpose of health and well-being has become one of the most prominent tourism patterns. With medical costs and waiting times continuously rising in Europe and the West, and accessibility to certain procedures lacking, the Middle East is in a prime position to increase its market share, with several countries pushing to become major players. Its developed infrastructure, state-of-the-art facilities, well-trained doctors and surgeons and peaceful reputation, have made Jordan one of the premier medical destinations in the region. Nayef Al Fayez, managing director, Jordan Tourism Board (JTB), commented on this niche market. “We are very pleased with the figures from 2010 and are hoping that 2011 will generate even more positive numbers. According to the Private Hospitals Association the total number of medical travellers was around 210,000 patients in 2010.” Medical tourism has gradually become a key growth engine for the Kingdom’s tourism industry and economy.

Middle East has created a generation which is keen to receive the best possible treatments; therefore they often travel to Asian countries, among others to Malaysia “Medical tourism is an extremely important source market to Jordan, especially from the region. We have noticed an increase in the number of arrivals seeking medical tourism in the past five years. We are hoping that we will continue to bring in solid numbers and are optimistic about the new markets we are working on. The major countries are Iraq, Palestine, Yemen, Libya, Sudan, Algeria, GCC, Lebanon and Syria,” added Al Fayez. The country has been steadily working on positioning itself as a medical hub that can compete with both Western and Far Eastern counterparts by having an edge in providing high quality services within a budget. As the value of medical tourism in rising, many Middle Eastern countries are striving to prove that they are no longer lagging behind the Asian trailblasers. Oman has recently inaugurated the region’s first multispecialty organ transplant and rehabilitation centre. The complex, which features a 530-bed hospital, is expected to be of benefit to the whole economy. Abdulla Aljoib, founding president, Apex Medical Group, commented on the development. NOVEMBER 2011

“We firmly believe that the Medical City Project will bring significant benefits not only to the healthcare sector in the region, but also to the economic and social development of GCC country.” With massive developments underway, Saudi Arabia has also been pushing to lure more patients by giving special attention to the growth of health and wellness tourism through working with the public and private stakeholders, to develop the necessary services, products and programmes. To further boost medical tourism in the region, governments and organisations are working closely with overseas parties. Earlier this year, UAE health officials visited South Korea to discuss prospects of strengthening ties in the healthcare sector.

With its ‘Medical Korea’ campaign, the Asian country is trying to put greater efforts into attracting foreign patients, particularly from some wealthy Middle East countries, including the UAE, Qatar and Kuwait.

Malaysia is in a position to deliver healthcare services suited to a Muslim population

EXCLUSIVE

25

Medical tourism in the region dates back to antiquity, when ancient Greeks and Egyptians travelled to hot springs and baths to improve their health. Yet, it has since gone from a novelty to a global trend and a burgeoning business with infinite growth potential.

The rise of an affluent class and increasing mobility in the Middle East has created a generation which is keen to receive the best possible treatments; therefore they often travel to Asian countries, among others to Malaysia. Being a moderate Islamic country and a member of the Organisation of Islamic Conference, the country has long appealed to Arab patients, noted, Vijayan Samuel, chief operating officer, Malaysia Healthcare. “Malaysia is in a position to deliver healthcare services suited to a Muslim population. Since September 11, 2001, and the present day political issues globally, many are now looking at having their treatment in alternative destinations other than the West, and Malaysia is primed as being the country that has been stable politically as well as being a moderate Muslim country.” Dual purpose destinations where medical treatment can easily be combined with a holiday experience have the greatest potential, noted Samuel. “A medical procedure performed in the serene ambience of Malaysia and far away from their home country, provides opportunity for the patient to relax and recuperate without unwarranted attention from any source. There is a continuous effort to improve and upgrade the service on various levels which makes us one of the most competitive and complete health providers in the world.”


26

WHO'S MOVED

Hameed Al Alawi Hameed Al Alawi has been named general manager of City Seasons Suites Dubai. During his career of more than 20 years, Al Alawi has worked with a number of renowned international hotel chains, including a 10-year tenure with Hilton Group. He also gained experience at British Airways. Prior to joining City Seasons, Al Alawi served as general manager at Coral Hotel Muscat followed by working at EWA Hotel

Bahrain. In his new position, building on his dedication to the industry and his wealth of experience in revenue management, Al Alawi will oversee all aspects of day to day hotel operations at the hotel with an emphasis on achieving key business goals. As general manager he aims to achieve optimal guest satisfaction through the creation of a positive service culture and guest feedback initiatives.

Lois Jane Hall Lois Jane Hall has been appointed exhibition manager of the Gulf Business Travel and Meetings Exhibition (GIBTM). Hall, who brings a wealth of experience to the event’s team, has in the past three years led the Dubai and Saudi International Boat Shows. She has a proven track record of achieving a high level of exhibitor and visitor satisfaction and exhibition space growth as well as creating new and fruitful partnerships with key clients.

With seven years of experience in regional and international events management, along with a deep understanding of the Middle Eastern business landscape, Hall will focus on GIBTM’s future growth.

She has a proven track record of achieving a high level of exhibitor and visitor satisfaction and exhibition space growth.

Jacqui Brits Jacqui Brits has joined Kempinksi Hotel Mall of the Emirates as director of people services. During her 12-year career in human resources, Brits gained experience in various fields of the industry, including recruitment and selection; learning and development; employee relations; compensation and benefits; and government relations. Brits, who has been based in Dubai for the past 12 years, moved to Kempinksi from retail giant Azadea, where she held the position of director of human resources. Prior to that, she worked at F1-X Theme Park, Union Properties and Jumeirah Group. In her

new role, Brits will be responsible for the management of the people services function in order to meet the strategic business objectives of the property by creating a satisfied and highly motivated team of industry professionals.

Brits gained experience in various fields of the industry, including recruitment and selection; learning and development; employee relations; compensation and benefits; and government relations. NOVEMBER 2011


RENDEZVOUS

27

Q & A with Michael Shepherd Continually increasing competition, as well as changing market conditions, demand innovative initiatives and improvements from hospitality providers in the high-end luxury hotel market, on an on-going basis. Michael Shepherd, general manager, London Hilton on Park Lane, shares the property’s plans and recent developments.

Travel Trade Monthly: The penthouse suite on the 26th floor of London Hilton on Park Lane recently underwent a GBP500,000 (USD785,511) refurbishment. What unique features does it now offer? Michael Shepherd: The penthouse suite enjoys the most outstanding panoramic views of London. Set on the most affluent position of the Monopoly Board, guests enjoy commanding views from Buckingham Palace to the hills of West Sussex and across Hyde Park to Hampstead and beyond. The suite, with opulent comfort, reflects the ultimate luxury of 21st century living along with a private steam room, jacuzzi, television and sound systems in the bathroom. It is ideally suited for entertainment with its dedicated kitchen, private dining room and extensive reception space.

cater to every guest’s needs and build on our client base through this individual and direct way. Travel Trade Monthly: What unique attributes allow the hotel to remain competitive in the highend Mayfair area?

Michael Shepherd, General manager, London Hilton on Park Lane

Travel Trade Monthly: How much business from the Middle East do the penthouse and presidential floors attract? Michael Shepherd: All the suites on the 26th and 27th floors attract significant demand from families and businessmen from the Middle East. These suites host presidents, princes and chief executives alike.

Travel Trade Monthly: The hotel was awarded Best Business Hotel in the UK by Business Traveller Magazine for the fifth year. What makes your hotel so attractive to the business market?

Travel Trade Monthly: How does London Hilton on Park Lane target visitors from the Middle East? Michael Shepherd: The London Hilton on Park Lane believes in personal relationships and aims to look after each individual, dependent on specific requirements. With our butler service we have the ability to View from exclusive restaurant

The London Hilton on Park Lane believes in personal relationships and aims to look after each individual

Michael Shepherd: Personal service, outstanding quality and continuous improvement and renovations allow us to be at the top of our game. Over the past five years, the London Hilton on Park Lane has consistently invested more than USD10 million per year. This allows us to improve our facilities and meet the ever growing demands of our valued regular guests.

Michael Shepherd: A whole host of factors makes this hotel attractive to the businessman visiting London. Its unique location in the heart of the West End provides an excellent base and at the same time offers access to Hyde Park and the exclusive shops in nearby Bond Street and Knightsbridge. Dedicated serviced meeting rooms and a business centre are supported by Wi-Fi throughout the hotel and excellent well trained and friendly staff is always at hand. Travel Trade Monthly: Are any further developments of the hotel expected in the near future?

London Hilton on Park Lane NOVEMBER 2011

Michael Shepherd: The London Hilton on Park Lane can be viewed as standing tall but never still. We have a comprehensive five year improvement plan, which covers all aspects of the building. We are presently upgrading the entrance and façade and will be renovating a further 80 rooms along with a new bar on the 28th floor and a new design for our health club, just to mention a few projects, over the next six months.


28

EVENTS

Abu Dhabi Reveals New Cruise Terminal Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), in collaboration with Abu Dhabi Ports Company and Abu Dhabi Terminals, has erected a new cruise terminal ahead of the upcoming cruise season. The tented terminal at Mina Zayed, the emirate’s main port, was designed to accommodate up to 1,300 passengers. Sprawling over 2,000m2 ,it houses two dediNew cruise terminal being built in Mina Zayed, cated halls, a luggage-handling Abu Dhabi facility and a passenger centre complete with a waiting lounge, security section, prayer rooms, offices, visitor information centre, currency exchange and customs and immigrations facilities. The newly founded terminal will debut upon the arrival of the 59,000 tonnes MSC Lirica, and will serve as home port to the luxurious vessel. MSC’s vessel, with capacity for 2,199 passengers in 784 cabins, will embark on 19 eight day and seven night cruises around the Arabian Gulf.

EVENTS

ADAC and Park Rotana Hotel in Abu Dhabi Offer Self-service Check-in Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC) has launched its self-service check-in kiosks at Park Rotana Hotel in Abu Dhabi. The new first of its kind service conveniently allows passengers to check out of the hotel and check in to their flights. The service also provides passengers with printed boarding passes and bag tagging. Harib Al Hameli, vice president, operations, Abu Dhabi International Airport, ADAC, commented on the facility. “With the introduction of these new kiosks at Park Rotana we hope to provide an even easier travelling experience for our customers from Abu Dhabi International Airport, that is unique every step of the way.”’ On completion of the check-in process, passengers will take their tagged bags along with them to be dropped off at the airport. Samir Abi Frem, corporate vice president, Information Technology, Rotana, gave his insight to the service. “We are very enthusiastic about this project and to be working with ADAC. The introduction of the self-service check-in kiosks in our properties will definitely take the overall guest experience as well as our competitive edge to a new level.”

Sponsored by

World Travel Market London, UK, November 7-10, 2011 (www.wtmlondon.com) A leading global event for the travel industry, presenting a diverse range of destination and industry sectors providing an opportunity to meet, network, negotiate and conduct business.

Philoxenia Thessaloniki, Greece, November 18-21, 2011 (www.philoxenia.travel) The expo, now in its 27th year, aims at promoting tourism in Southeastern Europe and the Mediterranean. It acts as an international meeting point for professionals engaged in different sectors of the tourism industry.

Dubai Airshow Dubai, UAE, November 13-17, 2011 (www.dubaiairshow.aero) The foremost aerospace event in the Middle East, which consistently delivers key buyers and decision makers.

EIBTM Barcelona, Spain, November 29 – December 1, 2011 (www.eibtm.com) A leading global event for the meetings and events industry, which gathers more than 14,200 professionals for three days.

International Golf Travel Market Antalya, Turkey, November 14-17, 2011 (www.igtm.co.uk) The premier event for the golf travel industry with pre-scheduled appointments, networking opportunities and industry updates.

World Green Tourism Abu Dhabi, UAE, December 5-7, 2011 (www.worldgreentourism.com) A three-day event that is supported by ADTA and EAD, and the only one in the region dedicated to the promotion of sustainable tourism.

NOVEMBER 2011


Travel Trade Monthly November 2011  

Travel Trade Monthly contains informative destination features, interviews with key industry figures and in-depth analysis of issues related...

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